Haathi - Dynamic Elephant

2017 in London
Chila Kumari Singh Burman

Mixed-media collage 'Haathi - Dynamic Elephant' by Chila Kumari Burman, 2017, showing an elephant facing left, highly embellished. The frame embellished with mirror pieces.

Made of cotton fabric shapes, plastic beads, plastic gems, mirror pieces, peacock feathers, gold-textured wrapping paper, metal pins, rhinestones, glitter, plastic fridge magnets

Elephants are of great cultural significance in India, and have long been the focus of state conservation and environmental policy. Nature reserves protecting species including elephants were established by Emperor Ashoka in around 250 BCE, and efforts put in place by the Mughal Emperor Akbar are credited with ensuring the survival of Indian elephants today. Here Burman captures this rich cultural heritage in exuberant mixed media.

One of 29 works produced by Burman as a commission to accompany the Science Museum’s ‘Illuminating India’ season in 2017-18. Five works in the series feature elephants.

The works respond to objects and narratives in the history of science in India particularly to the exhibition ‘5000 Years of Science and Innovation’, as well as to the wider religious and cultural history of the sub-continent. This was Burman's first significant engagement with the history of science and medicine, with the works ranging across print, collage, photography and mixed-media, including experiments with iPad technology.


Object Number:
cotton (textile), plastic (unidentified), mirror-glass (silvered), feather, paper (fibre product) and metal (unknown)
collage, mixed media
Commissioned by the Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, 2017